Sunday, 14 June 2015

Prehistoric Fauna: the Carnivores

Introduction

Last week, I showed my very limited collection of 28mm mammalian (& avian) prehistoric herbivores (excluding the big beasts, which have their own megafauna article).  Well, to complete the series, here are the carnivores.  There are rather more of them than the plant-eaters!

Smilodon

Leaping Smilodon.  I think that this one comes from the long-defunct Amazon miniatures.
Old (out of production?) Smilodon from Steve Barber Models  The new version from the same manufacturer is a much nicer model!
Smilodon is probably the best-known of the sabre tooth cats.  It's often called a "sabre tooth tiger", though this is inaccurate as it isn't a tiger at all.  The species lived in the Americas until about 10,000 years ago and probably specialised in ambushing large herbivores.

Neither of the models above is particularly well-sculpted, though the first one is a more likely size for an adult animal.  There are a number of other versions of 28mm Smilodons; all are quite different from each other!

Megalania

This Megalania model has a very upright stance that may not be accurate?
Megalania is a rare giant monitor lizard that inhabited Australia until about 30,000 years ago.  It's entirely possible that early man encountered these horrors, which have been estimated to grow up to 5.5m (18ft) long!

My version is yet another model from the defunct (but very useful) Amazon Miniatures range.

Dinofelis

The name Dinofelis means, of course, "terrible cat".  However, whilst they were probably a considerable danger to Australopithecus, most varieties were no larger than a modern leopard.  I suppose that's bad enough if you only have stone tools, though.

Actually, Dinofelis died out about 1.2 million years ago - so the Neanderthal hunter in the picture shouldn't really be too worried about meeting one!

This model is from the Dazed range (or DeeZee or DZ, as the range has been variously renamed).  It's still available, from Arcane Scenery.

Thylacine

Thylacine is very unusual for a "prehistoric" animal because they existed right up until the 1930s.  Indeed, there are still occasional sightings claimed, though it would be quite sensational if any of these were verified!  It's a marsupial predator, sometimes referred to as the "Tasmanian Tiger" - although at one time it was widespread across all of Australia and New Guinea.

My thylacine pack is by Steve Barber Models.

"Terror Bird"

There are a number of species of giant birds in the prehistoric environment.  This particular model is one of the earlier figures from Steve Barber and is now retired, I believe (there is a newer giant bird model from the same manufacturer which is very nice!).

I haven't been able to identify the species that this figure represents and so I cannot give you many details about it.  However, given its size I think that the Neanderthal may well be able to drive it away from its nest and take its eggs!

Diatryma Giganticus

Now here's a species worthy of the title "terror bird"!  Diatryma Giganticus (aka Gastornis) inhabited North America and Western Europe  about 45 million years ago and - despite its ferocious-looking beak - may have eaten tough leaves and shoots rather than being a hunter.  However, scientists appear to be split on this, as well as whether related species in China are actually the same creature.

This pair of models come, once again, from the defunct Amazon Miniatures range.

Phorusrhacos

Phorusrhacos is another variety of giant "terror bird".  This species lived in the Americas until maybe 13 million years ago and is believed to be a predator.

Several manufacturers make 28mm models of Phorusrhacos, but again mine comes from Amazon Miniatures (if I remember correctly).

Daedon

Strictly speaking, the world-wide Entelodont family (of which Daedon is a North American species) are omnivores rather than carnivores.  But then, so are bears (and humans)!  They'll eat meat if they can get it, though otherwise they'll live off vegetable matter.

I've put the Entelodonts in this article on predators because their taste for meat and their sheer size would present a considerable threat to any humans they encountered.  Of course, they wouldn't have met any people because Daedon died out about 19 million years ago - long before anything remotely like a human existed!

These models are from the Primaeval Designs range, available from Acheson Creations.  If they seem familiar then that may be because I've used them recently in a game as the fabled, monstrous Calydonian Boar and also (less recently) as "not-targ" in a Klingon Holiday.

Andrewsarchus

This is possibly the largest land-dwelling, carnivorous mammal of all time.  A fully-grown Andrewsarchus has been estimated to weigh 1 ton or even more.  With a 3 foot long jaw, it would have had a ferocious bite, though it isn't really known whether it was primarily a hunter or a scavenger.  Fortunately for the Neanderthal in the picture, Andrewsarchus lived in Mongolia some 36 million years ago, long before humans!

Good luck with finding a 28mm model of this beast!  Mine came from the long-defunct Amazon miniatures; I've never heard of another manufacturer attempting to make this creature.

Cave Bear

Now here's an animal which most certainly would have encountered Neanderthals!  The cave bear lived in Europe until 27,500 years ago - well within the timeframe for cavemen.  Given its huge size (a male could weigh 0.5 tons), they must have been quite a threat to stone age people!

This is a resin model that I thought came from Steve Barber Models as it's based in the same manner as my other "Prehistoric Settlement" game models.  However if it is from there than it must be an earlier sculpt; the current catalogue shows nothing like it.

Dire Wolves

Dire wolves are slightly larger than a modern grey wolf, but had a rather heavier build.  They existed in the Americas until maybe 10,000 years ago - well within the timespan for early humans.  I imagine that even primitive men were reasonably safe from them - unless the wolves were in an overwhelmingly large pack, were starving or otherwise motivated to attack!

This pack comes from the Dazed/DeeZee/DZ range and is still available from Arcane Scenery.  They were the stars in one of my most successful "offbeat" battle reports: The Howling!

Conclusion

There are many more prehistoric predators in model form than there are herbivores!  Indeed, a lot of the creatures that I have described above can be found in 3 or more different ranges of miniatures.  For example, Phorusrhacos (or something very like it) is/was made by Amazon Miniatures, Dragonblood Miniatures, HLBS, Ral Partha, Steve Barber and Reaper Miniatures.

I've noticed whilst making this list that much of my collection are older models, many of which are no longer available.  It's very tempting to start buying some of the more recent sculpts as well, to fill gaps or perhaps just for fun!

21 comments:

  1. Great looking bunch of creatures. I really like the patterns on alot of the fur especially the first Smilidon. Never heard of amazon miniatures. Seems they had quite a diverse range from the quick google search I just did.

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    1. Thanks, Simon. Most of these paint schemes are speculative, of course - but I tend to base them on modern analogues of the animal in question. Of course, there are written and photographic descriptions of the thylacine, so those are probably the most accurate models!

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  2. A wonderful menagerie of prehistoric beast!

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    1. It's really a very small chunk of the world's creatures, allowing for a time period of 40 million years or more and spanning the entire globe!

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  3. A very impressive collection, thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. Glad you like them! Mind you, I think it does show just how few prehistoric animal models are really available!

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  4. Lovely collection. I really wish I owned it.

    I found out yesterday that a sculptor "Jo" Brumby, has been commissioned to make a range for a company and they should be available in January/February 2016. So more prehistoric animals are coming. Sorry I can't give you more info though.

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    1. Thanks, Clint.

      Drat, but that does sound interesting! I've always wanted someone like Steve Barber to add more prehistoric stuff to his excellent range and the updated Settlement range is exciting.

      For a while, I thought that Acheson Designs in the USA might be going to produce the definitive range of primitive critters. However while all of those models are excellent there are too many varieties of ancestral elephant and not enough other stuff for my tastes!

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  5. well done C6,

    Your collection is great.
    Any rules to use with them ?
    Cheers
    Eric

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    1. Thanks, Eric! I've used these models with both "Tooth and Claw" and with "Adventures in the Lost Lands" before. Although we've had some interesting games, I find that these rules aren't quite what I'm after. I'm still looking for something to replace them.

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  6. well done C6,

    Your collection is great.
    Any rules to use with them ?
    Cheers
    Eric

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  7. You do have a fantastic collection of prehistoric fauna. As others have said, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Bryan. Although it might appear to be a big collection, there are relatively few prehistoric models available compared with other genres.

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  8. Very nice C6! I feel quite sorry for your lost time adventurers.

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    1. As long as the adventurers have weapons (and their ammunition lasts!), they'll probably be OK. Maybe :-) .

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  9. What a fantastic collection! I think your Neanderthal needs to be more careful what he turns his back on though ;-)

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    1. Thanks, Lee. Most of these animals would never have encountered a Neanderthal, so he doesn't really need to worry about them :-) . As for the cave bear - turning his back and legging it is probably his best course of action (though by no means a guarantee of safety)!

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  10. Thanks for both these articles, as they really help anyone who hasn't the time, or knowledge of where to go, to research models for their prehistoric games. Also good to see painted models, as they show what a 'naked' sculpt will look like once it's painted up! Cheers! Squibzy

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    1. Glad you found them useful, Richard. Of course, this is not by any means an exhaustive list of prehistoric beast models, but I think it probably does show some unusual figures.

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